TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — “Black Tide Island” (星空下的黑潮島嶼), a drama about Green Island in the 1950s for Hakka TV, aims to raise the bar for high-quality content and make Taiwan a creative hub.
At a press event earlier this week, the cast, directors, and producers turned up at Humble House Taipei to talk about the scripted series, which is based on true stories. It is a breakthrough for Taiwan TV because of its substantial budget and for focusing on Hakka culture.
Set in the early White Terror (1947-1987) period of Taiwan’s history, the TV series will look at the political suppression of Taiwanese and fallout from the Korean War (1950-53), when communism and democracy were at loggerheads. Against this backdrop, five jailed young medical men and intellectuals end up in Green Island Prison.
They provide medical care to inmates and islanders during difficult circumstances and find a way to cope with political suppression through brotherhood. “Black tide” refers to the Kuroshio or “Black Current” that flows past Green Island from Japan, bringing warm waters and making its underwater environment so abundant and unique.
Produced by Hakka TV, a cable channel backed by Taiwan Broadcasting System, and Go Inside Ltd., the program has sourced funds from local and central government sources. It is also backed by the Hakka Affairs Council, which is heavily promoting Hakka culture with its ongoing Hakka Expo in Taoyuan.
Hakka Affairs Council Minister Yiong Con-ziin (楊長鎮) was on hand in Taipei on Monday (Aug. 14) to back the production. He said the TV and movie content industry can “shine” a light on Hakka culture for local and international audiences.
The Hakka people are mostly descended from migrations starting in the mid-17th century from China’s Guangdong and Fujian. Hakka people have a distinctive language, culture and cuisine.
The cast and principals for Hakka TV drama "Black Tide Island." (Taiwan News, Jules Quartly photo)
Directed by Jim Wang (王傳宗), “Black Tide Island” is produced by Tang Sheng-jung (湯昇榮), who has produced a number of hit dramas for Netflix and HBO, Lo I-li (羅亦娌) and Roger Cheng (鄭凱駿). The script was written by Juliana (徐彥萍).
Before setting up Go Inside in 2015, Roger Cheng was a producer with Discovery Channel, producing documentaries for international audiences. He commented: “Two of the most popular genres for hardcore Discovery viewers were medical and survival. Interestingly, in ‘Black Tide Island,’ both are crucial elements.
“Coming from a factual or journalism background, I have always been fascinated by real-life stories and that is really how ‘Black Tide Island’ got started back in 2018.”
Cheng continued: "We all want to produce high-quality content that can be enjoyed not just across Taiwan but also around the world later through international distribution. South Korea has been successful in turning true stories into hit dramas and movies and we believe Taiwan could also be a creative hub for high-quality content."
The cast’s five main actors — Wang Shih-hsien (王識賢), River Huang (黃河), Tsao Yu-ning (曹佑寧), Wu Nien-hsuan (吳念軒), and Hsia Teng-hung (夏騰宏) — were a good-looking bunch, keen to show off their Hakka or Japanese language skills and talk about preparing for their roles.
“Black Tide Island” is scheduled to be broadcast next year.
The five actors in "Black Tide Island." (Taiwan News, Jules Quartly photo)